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Climate Not So Smart?

Climate Not So Smart?

In 2007, Pacific Gas & Electric launched its Climate Smart program, which asked customers to agree to pay a little extra on each bill in order to fight global warming.  The Public Utilities Commission gave the utlility permission to launch the plan with a budget of $16.3 million over three years. The money collected has been used to fund four in-state projects: three forest conservation efforts and one project to produce bioenergy by capturing methane (a greenhouse gas) from manure at a Bakersfield dairy.

A San Francisco Chronicle article recently revealed that the Climate Smart program has enrolled just 31,000 households, or .6% of its customer base.  In its first two years, the program collected $2.6 million from participants. During the same two years, it cost $9.7 million to run.  Many of the reader comments on the Chronicle’s website implied that those who participated in ClimateSmart were saps for giving their money to a program run by a giant utility company…or for believing in global warming in the first place.

Full disclosure: Call me a sap. I signed up for ClimateSmart as soon as it was offered and, according to my online bill, paid $47 extra in the last year to offset my emissions.

The program has not met expectations, though it has funded four projects and expects to offset one million tons of greenhouse gas emission by the end of this year, on a goal of 1.5 million tons.  It has cost way more in operating budget than it has contributed to carbon offsetting, so far.  There’s a sucker born every minute.  I know that I signed up for Climate Smart because I was desperate to do something, as much as I could, to support business’s efforts to do the right thing and to make a tiny, relatively painless, contribution to fighting climate change.  As the situation becomes more dire, certainly scams will become abundant, and mistakes will be made as we all are faced with the impacts of climate change. Climate Smart should be questioned, poked, analyzed, and maybe discontinued if its efforts do not measure up.  We can look at laws, petitions, studies, inventions, donations, adaptation and mitigation. Sustainability is a path, not an answer. Programs will come and go, but the real enemies are inertia and cynicism.  If we wait for the perfect solution, we will wait too long.

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A redwood forest working to clear the air.
Photo: Paul Hami, Creative Commons from Flickr

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21 comments

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6:34PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thank you for article.

6:33PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thank you for article.

6:33PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thank you for article.

6:32PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thank you for article.

11:48AM PDT on Sep 7, 2009

I am not in the U.S. but think that a company would have to be awfully transparent and be able to prove where my extra $$ went..

10:21PM PDT on Aug 9, 2009

...uuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhcare2....g'nite...

10:17PM PDT on Aug 9, 2009

....sorry everyone for the triple post...either probably hit the button to many times or i got shived by care 2 monitors once again, in answer to your worries as to why your electric bill has gone up, well just wait for the "Cap n' Trade' bill...everyone is gonna be taxed to the hilt! from commodities to gasoline to electric, to food...(costs will go up for transport!) I for one hope and pray this one doesn't go thru...seems to me that this is a set-up for a "Shill-Game"...and in the end WE WILL ALL BE TAXED...just to fill the pockets of the now rich, including our govt....who just doesn't care anymore!!! O.F. ~ *

9:56PM PDT on Aug 9, 2009

...well ...I for one am sorry for the iresponsability that the Care2 site has shown me...my foolishness' true beliefs ................or idiosyncracies...who knows? Suffice to say...that a clear and concise agenda is not thier cup of tea...but i shall continue to speak out for the FREEDOMS I HOLD Most Dear to my heart...perhaps its' just a glitch...duh.. do ya think so...no matter what is erased it is all still there, and shoot...sure was a good write...so let me try to simplify the agenda...do you want to keep paying your govt. to take care of you (?)...or do you want to continue to pay your govt.? tis a no win situatiion...throw the bums out!!! Lets start over again with people who will honor and respect us... O.F.~*

9:36PM PDT on Aug 9, 2009

...rise up, get your head out of wherever you think you should be and do the right thing...save the earth and all that stuff, big agenda.......huh? unless you pay bigger and more agenda your whole political "rescue me" stuff may be falling into the SEA as we speak...hurry on up here and save yourself, your sister your brother... another....stop the maddness....and your govt. who has promised you everything...for all of you green people out there who feel this is what is necessary to keep our land healthy...for anyone who has ever laid down in a field at sunset, sunrise...or has ever counted the stars in the sky and has said "Oh yes...that is 'Oriens' Belt'...or the dog star...yes...I see the 3 sisters...and the Small~n' BIG Dipper~its time to UNITE...just an additive to what was lost that i typed a while back...Health Care Reform (?) ...sorry, not this way...NO...NEVER...to my govt. ...get rich on your own selves...the till emptys quickly...if you got a problem with the people in this country who have no coverage....THEN FIX IT...thats what I pay you for...figure it out and leave my health care and TAXES alone...such stupid stuff, our people in this country are suffering, many un-employed, too many homes fore-closed...people who are 'homeless" and you wanna have 2 jets, 3 jets...now EIGHT!!! Who is buyin' these???

9:32PM PDT on Aug 9, 2009

...rise up, get your head out of wherever you think you should be and do the right thing...save the earth and all that stuff, big agenda.......huh? unless you pay bigger and more agenda your whole political "rescue me" stuff may be falling into the SEA as we speak...hurry on up here and save yourself, your sister your brother... another....stop the maddness....and your govt. who has promised you everything...for all of you green people out there who feel this is what is necessary to keep our land healthy...for anyone who has ever laid down in a field at sunset, sunrise...or has ever counted the stars in the sky and has said "Oh yes...that is 'Oriens' Belt'...or the dog star...yes...I see the 3 sisters...and the Small~n' BIG Dipper~its time to UNITE...just an additive to what was lost that i typed a while back...Health Care Reform (?) ...sorry, not this way...NO...NEVER...to my govt. ...get rich on your own selves...the till emptys quickly...if you got a problem with the people in this country who have no coverage....THEN FIX IT...thats what I pay you for...figure it out and leave my health care and TAXES alone...such stupid stuff, our people in this country are suffering, many un-employed, too many homes fore-closed...people who are 'homeless" and you wanna have 2 jets, 3 jets...now EIGHT!!! Who is buyin' these???

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